There are plenty of NHL trade rumors out there for struggling teams, and even some involving teams doing great this season such as the Vegas Golden Knights. The latest speculation is how the front office can ensure that this team continues their winning ways past the franchise’s inaugural season. One analyst contends it could mean parting ways with a valuable player like James Neal while making sure that William Karlsson remains part of the roster moving forward.
A few days ago, ESPN presented their NHL roundtable with their writers and analysts, including senior NHL writer Greg Wyshynski. He suggested that they should make a trade involving James Neal now in order to help the team’s future, but only if they are receiving good value in return. As Wyshynski says, that could mean several draft picks or a first-rounder in exchange for the 30-year-old veteran. The belief is that Neal will be moving into free agency and rather than pay up on what he’ll expect to keep him around, Vegas may be better off listening to offers.
Neal has spent nine years in the league now after he was first drafted by the Dallas Stars back in 2005. In his current season’s stats, he’s got 20 goals and 11 assists, while his career totals are 258 goals and 224 assists. Still, he may provide another team with the key veteran they need to improve their roster, while Vegas tries to grow their talent a bit slower via draft picks and prospects.
With that said, national NHL reporter Emily Kaplan believes the team should do what’s necessary to “lock in William Karlsson” beyond this season. Due to the Vegas Knights having such early success, it seems to have forced the hand of management into keeping around future free agents like Karlsson. He’s a player who can continue to do well for them in the future as he’s achieved 25 goals and 14 assists in this first season with Vegas, and third year in the NHL. Karlsson provides the team with good upside and is one of those great foundations for the future, worthy of being locked in.
One thing is quite clear and that is the Vegas Golden Knights are winning, much earlier than many expected. The team has brought the excitement of hockey to Las Vegas in just their first year on the ice there. That means management will need to make key moves now to continue to bring the quality of hockey the fans expect. It could mean parting ways with Neal despite his great stats, but if it means bringing in future stars who will keep the winning tradition alive, it’s probably in the team’s best interest.